29 January 2019

UHC Day on 12.12.18 was the first opportunity to celebrate UHC Day after it was officially recognized as a United Nations day on 12.12. 17, and people and organizations all round the world took part in events to raise awareness and increase political will for UHC.

Unite for universal health coverage: UHC Day 2018

Led by UHC2030 and the multi-stakeholder UHC Day Coordination Group, Universal Health Coverage Day 2018 exceeded the breadth and depth of engagement seen in years past. The focus of 12.12.18 extended far beyond civil society engagement with more partner events, more country-level engagement and more creative content on social media than ever before. UHC2030 provided  66 grants to civil society organizations and networks around the world to hold events, but this was just part of the picture.

Launch of the 2018 UHC Day campaign
In the build up to 12.12, the global health community was invited to join a partner call to launch the UHC Day campaign. Global agency health leaders such as Dr Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director General, and Dr Tim Evans, World Bank Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population, spoke alongside the UHC2030 co-chair Dr Githinji Githahi and local civil society representatives including Mercy Mutonyi, Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support, Kenya; Cleopatra Barkoye, President of the Guyana Nurses Association; Arthur Nielsen Demain, Markaz al-Huzaim Youth Council, Philippines, and Batool Wahdani, President, International Federation of Medical Students' Association.

Dr Tedros spoke encouraging words: "UHC is achievable for all countries, at all income-levels. It's not just an inspiration, it can be a reality." 

Githinji Githari encouraged civil society by saying: "Movements are built to sit on the ground and more feet on the ground is better than having feet at the top. CSOs it is your absolute duty to create energy and activity in countries and regions."

Create energy and activity they did! A heat map on the UHC Day microsite asked organisations to feed information about their activities, and they collectively posted a total of 187 events from around the world. A global event of a UHC DAY panel discussion and reception at the United Nations, New York was live streamed. A fuller report on media and events on UHC day 12.12.18 can be found here.

The action didn’t stop there. Connections and conversations from this day are already generating momentum in the lead up to major milestones, including the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2019. See the end of this article for other ways to stay involved.

UHC2030 partner-led events
UHC2030 sponsored 57 partner events, meaning organizations across the globe were able to engage with UHC Day in unprecedented ways.

The UHC Day Coordinating Group (12.12.CG) received ​435 grant applications​ by the end of October 2018. Of these, 12.12.CG selected ​66 grantees​ ​from 37 countries​, and included 2 global youth network events, 1 regional youth network event and 3 online events.

These events facilitated engagement at the community, national and international levels, and were a cornerstone of UHC activity. While some events followed traditional formats, such as high-level meetings and panels, many focused on community engagement through rallies, pop-up medical clinics, advocacy workshops, social media campaigning and more.

Here is a flavour of some of the events that took place.

Ageing Nepal, Nagarjun Municipality, Nepal

Ageing Nepal planned a week-long campaign to promote UHC for marginalized populations, especially the elderly. Activities included a health camp, rally, awareness session, op-ed campaign and roundtable discussion.

All Together in Dignity, Dublin, Ireland

All Together in Dignity’s UHC Day panel launched a series of educational workshops for young adults, focusing on the role of youth in supporting UHC reform in Ireland.

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program, Nairobi County, Kenya

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program hosted a series of events, including a football tournament for adolescent girls and young women in informal settlements of Nairobi, a concert and a march. Their events aim to promote awareness of sexual and reproductive health rights.

Journalists Association Against AIDS, (JournAIDS) Lilongwe, Malawi

Journalists Association Against AIDS convened a high-level panel co-hosted by 12 partners, which was broadcast live on the radio with opportunities for people across Malawi to participate via text message. The panel focused on whether user fees are sustainable for health financing and universal health coverage.

Background to role of UHC2030

UHC2030 has supported UHC Coalition partners to organise UHC Day events since 2016; but our role is growing. 

A 2018 UNGA resolution recognised UHC2030 as a relevant multi-stakeholder platform to convene partners for sharing evidence and good practice, challenges and lessons learned. Building on this experience and mandate, UHC2030 is uniquely positioned to coordinate partners to organise around UHC Day across the world and is now spearheading these efforts.  

Leading transparently and collaboratively, UHC2030 convened a multi-stakeholder Coordination Group on International UHC Day (12.12.CG) that included Member States, organisations of the United Nations system, civil society, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and academia. 12.12.CG was responsible for developing the identity and campaign materials for UHC Day, building on the existing efforts of the UHC Coalition and other relevant initiatives for UHC.

Let’s continue to work together

UHC Day is just one day, albeit important, on the road to UHC. Let’s continue to build political momentum and share experiences and lessons learned in our collective endeavours. Here are some useful resources and ways to stay involved:

Find out more about our new E-learning module on advocacy for UHC

Use our updated UHC2030 Social Media toolkit to advocate online

Get involved in the UNGA High-level Meeting on UHC preparatory process

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